State House Update – May 20, 2019

This week at the State House

The House and Senate will each meet Thursday at 10 a.m., with the deadline to act on legislation approaching quickly on June 6.

We’ve got a couple big updates on some of our key bills, but we’re also waiting for more information on some bills that have passed the House and Senate but are waiting on the next step – whether the originating chamber concurs with changes to amended bills. Below you’ll find a reminder on how it works when, for example, the House amends and passes a bill that started in the Senate.

You can find the complete House and Senate calendars below:


RETIREMENT SYSTEM

Committee approves COLA; Senate to vote

Action alert: Please ask your senator to support HB 616 immediately

On Thursday, the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee approved HB 616, our pension cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) bill, on a party-line vote. This vote came just days after Gov. Chris Sununu held a press conference at a fire station in Hudson to announce his support for the bill. Several SEA members, including lead sponsor Rep. Dianne Schuett, took part in the press conference with Gov. Sununu. The bill now moves on to the full Senate for a vote on Thursday, and we need you to contact your senator and make it clear that our retirees need a COLA.

Background: Members of NHRS have not received a COLA since 2010. As expenses rise, these retirees who dedicated their careers to public service find themselves left further and further behind. This bill would grant a 1.5 percent COLA to those who have been retired for 60 months. The bill has passed the House and has garnered the support of Gov. Sununu.

What you can do: Even if you’ve already done so, we need you to contact your senator and make it clear that retirees need a real COLA. You can easily send a message to your senator using our updated online action form, which you can find hereWe’ve given you a message to start with but we highly recommend personalizing it by explaining exactly what this COLA would mean to you. If you’d prefer to call your senator, you can find their contact information hereWe’re close to the finish line – let’s keep this moving.


LEGISLATIVE PROCESS

To concur or nonconcur, that is the question

As we approach the end of the legislative session, the House and Senate are being faced with a tough question: what to do if the other chamber has made changes to a bill.

Here’s a hypothetical example: Earlier this year, the House passed a House bill, which then crossed over to the Senate. The Senate then made changes to the bill and passed an amended version. Because the bill is different than what the House passed, the House basically has three options: concur (agree with the changes and send the bill to the governor), nonconcur (disagree and let the bill die), or ask for a committee of conference (this is essentially nonconcurring, except that the House and Senate would then have an opportunity to hash out their differences).

The deadline to form committees of conference is June 13, so the time is running out to make decisions, but we should see these committees being formed in the coming weeks and several of our bills could be impacted. We’ll keep you updated.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Updates on other bills we’re following

In addition to the bill listed above, here are progress reports on a few other key issues:

Child protection: Last week, Gov. Chris Sununu said he intended to sign SB 6 when it reached his desk, however we don’t yet know when that will be. This bill would add 77 new positions in child projection, giving the dedicated staff there direly needed reinforcements. We’ll bring an update as soon as we have it on when the bill will be signed.

Minimum wage: The House Labor Committee is expected to vote this week on SB 10, the Senate’s bill to re-establish the minimum wage in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee has rereferred the House minimum wage bill, HB 186, basically putting that bill on hold for now.

Corrections Group II: The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved HB 116, and the full Senate will vote Thursday on this bill, which would allow the movement of Department of Corrections employees from Group I to Group II without specific legislation.

Notice to join unions: The House approved an amended version of SB 148on Wednesday. The bill spells out protections for public employee privacy and also provides labor unions with important worksite access protections. We do not yet know whether the Senate will concur with the changes.

Clinicians bill: The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will vote Tuesday on SB 115, which would establish a commission to study the business environment for mental health providers in New Hampshire. The House has already approved this bill once, and if supported by the committee, it would go before the House for a second and final vote.

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